SD-WAN and Cloud Strategy: A Potential Win, With These Considerations

Two business people discussing SD-WAN solutions

Thanks to its potential for seamless, agile connectivity with the cloud, a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solution can help an organization achieve its cloud-first strategy—with a caveat. Like any promising new solution, SD-WAN achieves its full potential only when realized with the right approach. If you’re moving workloads to the cloud, you’ll need to take a look at how SD-WAN fits into your cloud strategy.

SD-WAN is poised to make cloud services even more popular than they already are. So, if you’re aiming to leverage SD-WAN into your cloud strategy, start by getting clarity on your own requirements, evaluating the quickly changing marketplace, and zeroing in on the right SD-WAN vendor for your environment.

As part of our ongoing exploration of SD-WAN adoption, and how to avoid potential pitfalls, we present a closer look at the connection between your SD-WAN program and your cloud ambitions.

Three questions to ask en route to SD-WAN

Whether you’re going for a hybrid, cloud-first, or cloud-somewhere-in-the-mix approach, there are both opportunities and pitfalls abound. To ensure that you ‘know before you go,’ consider the following questions:

  1. What are your unique connectivity requirements? You might be considering SD-WAN because it will increase your organizational agility while offering potential cost savings. But you’ll also want to improve the end-user experience by making it easier and faster to access their cloud services. So, it’s vital from the very start to understand and optimize how applications interact and flow. What will constitute sufficient bandwidth to prevent disruption? How will you offload traffic? What policies are needed to govern automation or orchestration?

  2. Get to know the vendors—all of them. The rapidly growing SD-WAN market is crowded with many players, of all sizes—trusted big names and hot startups alike. But all SD-WAN solutions are not created equal, and they certainly won’t all support your cloud strategy. The vendor you’ve come to love and trust for other purposes may offer SD-WAN solutions, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to work for your needs.

    It pays to invest in the legwork required to research multiple vendors, taking into consideration which ones are likely to survive into the future. And, different SD-WAN vendors offer different kinds of hardware, software, and unique ways of advancing their solutions over time. That’s why Burwood has been tracking the SD-WAN marketplace for quite some time—we anticipate that creating a knowledge base would require a significant and ongoing investment of effort.

  3. What will it take to protect your data? Data protection can often be overlooked in the rush to the cloud, so it’s important to consider it sooner rather than later. When you’re considering SD-WAN solutions, ask whether the appliance itself supports security; you may need to adjust for your firewalls, encryption policies, and specific business security measures. Some—but not all—SD-WAN vendors have partnered with security vendors to bridge the security gap. Always be sure to evaluate solution specifications based on your business requirements.

Is SD-WAN right for your cloud strategy?

Every IT team will have its own answers to these framing questions. Don’t underestimate the time required to understand the options and implications for your cloud strategy. Also, SD-WAN isn’t necessarily a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. You’ll still need resources to manage policies, prevent overpayment for services, and attend to other administrative and maintenance matters.

To alleviate that pressure on your team, one option is to use SD-WAN as-a-Service. Your SD-WAN-as-a-Service provider can provide a comprehensive comparison of SD-WAN vendors and their relative merits or drawbacks, recommend security strategies, manage end-to-end implementations, daily configurations, policies, infrastructure, patching, and more. As a carrier aggregator, Burwood can even manage your carrier relationships on your behalf—a major time- and cost-saver.

To discuss your organization’s plans for SD-WAN and cloud strategy, reach out to Burwood Group today.

This blog post was sponsored by Citrix, a strategic partner of Burwood Group.


November 19, 2018